Logo Trend Predictions for 2019:

Towards the latter part of 2018, I noticed a ramping up of certain logo design trends and wanted to share those design approaches, and explore how they may impact the design world in 2019. (Most of these patterns have been influenced mainly by client demand.)

1.) Simplification. The stripping down of icons to their purest and most minimalist components, appears to be a universal and easiliy approachable theme. We noticed the trend a few years back with the trimmed down version of the Starbucks logo design, Air BnB, and numerous others as logo brand refreshes surge. With technology constantly evolving, the demand for more white space and breathability becomes crutial for legibility among smaller platforms.


2.) Flat is where it’s at. It’s been years since I’ve had a client want a gradient, shading, ombre, or distressing on any commissioned logo designs. Flat, fluid colors now convey restraint and modernism. Neon colors and vibrant color palettes now project a certain energy. The effort looks impactful, without trying too hard.

Spotify’s rebrand using flat color.

3. Geometric is centric. Being fortunate to design logos in such a trendy city as Austin, TX, you are exposed to a mix of clients with a discerning eye. Many of whom might be a modern farmhouse architect, a minimalist landscape designer, or a high end boutique dental office. With that influence in mind, I’m often directed to provide work that has strong clean lines and edges; marks that interpret simple objects in an artistic, interpretive manner. In addition, a lot of recent clients don’t necessarily want a logo mark based on something specific, and are open to an abstract interpetation of a mark, so long as the lines are aesthetically pleasing.

#modernlogodesign #geometriclogodeisgn
Austin Logo Designs modern geometric logo samples

4. Sexy use of typography. A handful of my clients are demanding font styles that are more understated, thinner lines which force the viewer to draw you in. Last month, I had a client come to me frustrated. She had seen a few logo designers prior, that told her it was impossible to successfully design a logo with proper tracking to be balanced. We worked a little magic and were able to create another modern, type-based design for “The Firm”. They are also not shying away from logo designs that are type-based and not needing to be coupled with a graphic. This allows them to utilize striking photographic images to accompany the name to further develop their brand.

Thin, minimal use of font-only based logo designs

Logo Trends Forecast 2018: What’s Really Trending

I like to wait until early Spring before posting what I believe to be trending for the year, so I can see what design demands I get from my clients, and hopefully provide a more accurate logo trend forecast for the year. You can’t get any more accurate then deriving your content straight from the source. Who said there’s anything wrong with being fashionably late anyhow?

I’ve read various online logo trend reports that were posted right out of the gate in the beginning of 2018, and agree with a few, and some I disagree with whole heartedly.

Let’s start with the definition of the word trend.

Trend: Noun: The general course or prevailing tendency; drift.

That brings me to want to eliminate some aspects from the yearly logo trends list. The negative space element within a logo design is timeless, and should never in my eyes be labeled as a “trend”. It will forever be trending, so let’s not be forever redundant. We’ve seen it back in , Fedex’s hidden arrow, in the usa network logo and countless others. Any time you pull in the audience’s eye to linger at a graphic to decifer another hidden element, engage the brain to process that visual quickly and succinctly, in a thoughtful and minimal manner…you force the audience to carry that experience, that memory with them; The “lingering logo” I call it. Hence, creating a successful logo design. I consistently get that request from clients during concept meetings. It will never be eliminated from the logo goal list, and I don’t feel it needs to be listed as a new trend for any upcoming year. It’s a timeless logo design tool that will cross over many generations, and should be in every designer’s toolbox of design elements to impart into a brand when able. Most often then not, its unattainable, if you don’t have objects and letterforms that lends themself to that approach. This clever use of negative space will never expire. It’s not a fad, its a logo design mission; If you’re good. (insert wink).

I strongly disagree with the another trend I’d like to strike from the list. The “stacked logo trend”. I could not pull that off as a valid design comp with a client if it came with a free puppy. When you interupt the flow of the eye reading a word or phrase, it requires more effort and time to impress upon the viewer the company name or brand. You require more eye muscle memory. You have about 3 seconds to register and deliver that message. Pausing, even for a millisecond for each syllable adds up to additional time and effort to familiarize yourself with that new brand name. Case in point, I remember this so-called stacked trend in the 90’s for tshirts and hip hop brands specifically. The only time I’ve requested that I create a stacked logo design was for that specific purpose in late 2017 for a client called, Yesterday’s Attic, an online vintage 80/90’s brand for a tshirt design. The logo design lent itself to a stacked version solely because it was going to be printed large on shirts, and was reflective of that era, before logo designs and branding needed to be optimized for sites, apps, social media, etc. The only other time I’ve witnessed it working well was for Steve Job’s commissioned “next logo” because there were only 4 letters. In conclusion, the more stacking, the more space and real estate is required to house the design in media, making it succeptable to be smaller and less readable, so let’s just chunk this one.

Ok, now that I’ve purged my initial thoughts on what’s not trending, in my head, let’s jump into what is trending based on what I’ve experienced with providing various logo design comps, and seeing which ones get selected by local Austin clients. A real world test in my eyes as Austin is the creative and tech hub or startups and entrepeneurial businesses. These logos have a job, and have to function in the real world, not a pretty blog.

1.) Linear, geometric logo marks. These graphics with hard lines, strong edges, and parallel lines, scream modernism and are often preferred by my clients. No more frilly, flourishes or unnecessary detail are requested. They seem to desire simpler flat logo marks. See a few images below that most of my clients have preferred over previous graphic styles of the years past:



2.) Flat colors vs. Gradient? The jury is still out for me on this one to be honest. If I had 2 buckets and only approved flat colored logo designs were tossed into one bucket, and another into a gradient-colored only logos into another, I’d say about 40% select the gradient options and 60% choose the flat color option.

3.) Hand lettering. These fluid typographic type treatments were always, and will be trending for some time. The only time I see hand lettering-based logos going away is maybe in the year 2070…when everything is majorly minimal and modern, when have established colonies on Mars, and more utilitarian vibes are in. Otherwise, all the instagram typographers will have plenty of work for quite some time.

5.) The colorless, but impactful logo. I’ve seen quite a few clients request a logo designed in black and white. Even if they are going with antique, vintage vibes, they want to see their logo in black and white. I can’t entertain them with the same logo design in rusty reds and browns, aged, cremey vanillas or metal grays. I see this most with clients that are in the home interior or modern home or architecture fields that do not want color in their logo design to compete with the colors in their photos and take away any focus. I think its a little genius in a way. We all know, the test of a good logo is if its A.) Readable in black and white and B.) Readable at about 1 inch big. They can always change it later to a color, like the ol’ CBS logo. But in the meantime, a good ol’ black and white logo still does its happy, little job pretty darn well.


6.) Monogram logo marks. Those are a great solution for clients that don’t want the same tired, literal graphic and don’t want a clip art, stock image vibe. Merging 2 letters together for a simple mark was done well by Louis Vuitton, Gucci and others. I remember admiring my cousin’s Gucci purse when I was about 11 or 12. I loved the simple, clean way they merges those cute little G’s to make a little mark that functioned almost as a dot, as one unit and more importantly…you could repeat as a pattern, without it dizzing the eye. These work great for brands using both a client’s first and last names, and don’t have a business brand name that includes a specific visual object to interpret.

7.) The Serif font is sort of having a moment. I remember being a “Communication Arts” student at Southwest Texas State…errr…Yes, I’m a dinosaur…let me translate, A graphic design student at Texas State University and the professor asking about preferred fonts and it was universally, “san serif”. Serifs were reserved for your folks, way too old school. Suggesting its use in class in the late 90’s was like feeding them chocolate covered grasshoppers…the look of disgust on their face was priceless. But, certain serif fonts are working well for some brands. A slimmer, tapered serif can give sexy vibes. One of my favorites I’ve purchased is scotch from myfonts.com. I’ve seen it used in branding on exterior buildings in South Congress. It sort of grabs you because its unsuspecting. We have been expecting simple san serif fonts for a while now, so to see it used captures your eye, and makes a designer stop if only for a moment.

Try one of these logo trend applications on your designs and see where it takes you.

First Steps for Small Business Start-Ups

Don’t make these costly small business errors.
Every other month or so I have a client come to my office ready to throw down a credit card and start the logo design process and launch their business idea. They are big-eyed and full of motivation, ready to leave the gate at full force. They have “researched” the availability of their new small business name via the Law Firm of Google and Google and think they are all set and ready for the design process….But Eerkkk….these entities need to stop right there.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to verify name availability through a preliminary search via online or social media. The first step in the small business start up process is to verify with the state, that you have the legal authority to use the business name. Under section 5.053 of the BOC, an entity or small business cannot have a name that is the same as or deceptively similar to an entity previously filed with the secretary of state. Filing your name not only clear you of your rights to use the name, but also puts others on notice that it’s in use and protects your entity. In addition, if the name is slightly similar, a filing business cannot have a name that is similar to an existing name on file with the secretary of state unless the existing entity or business, consents in writing to the use of the similar name.

We actually ran into that same issue when filing our name, “Austin Logo Designs” years ago. I was using my last name, of Spanish origin originally and it was just too confusing and didn’t clearly portray what we did as an entity. I fell in love with the name “Austin Logo Designs” and after originally filing with the state ran into a snag because there was a small church community with the name, “Austin Logos Church”. I would have only been granted the authority if the other business church owner signed off. It was a pretty stressful week until he so graciously signed off and we were on our way. I never would have known this, had I not gone through that legal process first.

We dodged a bullet in that regard, but unfortunately I’ve had a few clients that weren’t so lucky and lost thousands of dollars. About 4 or 5 years ago here in Austin; 2 passionate partners starting up a killer business with athletes in mind, providing training tips, large screens for performance evaluations. It was going to be very interactive and original in terms of fitness and technology. I had assumed that they were clear to use the name they chose. We created a stainless steel, metal and red logo design that we were all in love with. Cards were made, website was up and running with stunning photos, captivating copy, and a brick and mortar storefront was leased. The wheels were in motion. Then, we found out they received a cease and assist letter from a major athletics apparel company, which may or may not rhyme with “wonder farmer”. The name was too similar to theirs and they threatened to sue. They probably had 20 lawyers and it was a “David and Goliath (minus the slingshot) type scenario”, so my client had to back down and drop its name and close shop because their name was not originally cleared for legal use. All of the time and energy and funds spent on the logo design, shirts, branding, site, cards, etc were a loss.

Also of note, it is extremely important to decide your business classification, LLC, DBA? Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation. However if you’re trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation. It’s best to determine which is best for your business via a trademark attorney. (I prefer the ones you can meet for lunch vs. online sites.)

Once your brand is registered as a legal entity, you can then get familiar with your state tax codes and develop a business plan, even if its a rough one, and open a business account.

Next step, I’d advise it so make sure you purchase the domain name that clearly reflects your business name. Back in the 90’s, plenty of domains were readily available, but now, its rare to be able to find a domain that has your perfect name available, with a “.com” attached. Make sure you snatch it up via godaddy.com or another site. I also advise using a webmail address with your domain name attached so it looks more professional on cards.

Once you have cleared the legal portion of your business name and classification, then proceed with meeting with a local, graphic designer in person, and go over your ideas and conquer the world. Good luck!

Choosing a Logo Designer for Your Small Business

#golocal #texaslogo
Opt for a local logo designer, not online sites

So you’re starting a small business and finally have all your legal ducks in a row. Your company name is approved, and you’re financially set to move forward developing your brand, your true passion. Now its time to pick either a cheap, internet-based graphic design company, an image or clip art from a stock site or meet with a local graphic designer in town. The first two options appear to be a quick, easy fix…but at what cost?

I want to warn small business owners of some possible legal conflicts that can arise if you don’t choose a local graphic designer for your long-term logo design branding. Many of the online design sites, use overseas designers with U.S. companies, but oftentimes, the laws of the country in which the graphic designer lives differ from the U.S. trademark law, thus leaving YOU susceptible to lawsuits. They are also usually not subject to refraining from copying other company’s logo designs. We have had numerous online sites steal our original logo designs trying to repurpose our original work for another company, and its a little heartbreaking to witness.

I’ve also had clients walk in telling us stories of providing online designers with images to reference, only to have proofs sent to them with simply the competitor’s company name replaced by theirs, an obvious trademark infringement. I’ve also had new clients come to us having tried online design sites, only to be frustrated that they felt they could not communicate well with them, perhaps due to a language barrier on the designer’s end.

In addition, most stock photo or clip art companies often have terms and conditions that stop their images being used as trademarks, unless you’re willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars up front. Always read the fine print. Also, know that if you select an image from a stock site, there is a likelihood that another company may have that same logo design or trademark, but with a different name. I’ve seen multiple companies use business card design sites as well for the same company, and it can get confusing to the consumer, as the fonts, colors and graphics are repeated for different companies, sometimes in the same field.

It’s always best to utilize a graphic designer that you can meet in person, text directly and possibly establish a relationship with, hopefully longterm. Local logo designers that are immersed in your community are a huge branding asset. This shows accountability on their part and also delivers personal service and more open lines of communication. They are connected to local vendors, printers, investors, advisors, small business events and more.

Another big benefit in choosing a local, logo designer is they maintain an awareness for your brand and how it would fit within the community. They are already familiar with the rival coffee shops brand you may be competing with or the latest shuttle company’s brand that may be your competition, and how to help you establish your own killer look and feel, without infringing on others.

Always approach your brand’s logo design, as an investment, not just an expense. The logo design is the one thing you should hopefully never have to change, its the first chance to make a strong first impression. It’s like a secure foundation to your house, allowing all other assets to accumulate securely thereafter. It’s the launchpad your web designer uses for your online web presence feel, the color palette, the tone.

Consider all these factors when making your selection. In this new era of entrepreneurship, online graphic design is now less expensive, but establishing and maintaining a relationship with a personalized graphic designer in your community is priceless.

A Successful Logo Design Checklist: Does Your Design Pass the Test?

There are at least 5 top characteristics that make a good logo design:

Logo Checklist
Logo Checklist

1 Is your logo design readable at 1 inch big?

Does your logo design function well across both large and small mediums? If not, it’s not a good logo design. Believe it or not, a logo design has a specific job to convey to its audience in a minute amount of time. It’s not a decoration, it’s not something that needs to just look pretty. It also does not operate like a Picasso cubist painting; your audience does not have time to stand in front of it and decifer its meaning, and break down multiple elements or process an array of colors. I so often run into a client experience where they want to put as many elements into a logo design as possible, trying too hard, and not adhering to the “less is more” rule of thumb for design.

I recently had a client instruct me to illustrate a 6 bedroom house, equipped with spanish tiles, windows, sconces, a car in the driveway, trees, double doors and an ocean in the background for a logo design. This forced his real estate company name to take the back burner and only occupy 5% of the total real estate space of the logo design. When such a design is produced smaller on a business card at about .5 of an inch, his name, his brand would have been illegible. In addition, the house type would have also pigeon-holed some of his market into a specific home type sell. Always ensure the company name occupies a majority of the space of the design, a 90% logomark or icon and 10% company name, is NOT a good ratio.

2 Does your logo design appropriately address your target market and age group?

Is your age group mainly male, or both? Is it age 18-60 or more specific, only to millenials or baby boomers? Start the design process knowing who your audience is and reflect that vibe into your design elements whenever possible. You don’t want to turn off potential clients because the design feels unrelatable.

3 Do the colors used accurately reflect your brand? The psychology of color is mind-blowing to me. Banks and politicians are always using blue to convey trust. Pink is feminine, grays are strong and modern. Reds and greens are for foods and nature. Acknowledge that color plays a strong role in your brand. What if the Starbucks logo was pink? Ever notice the calming colors painted inside hospitals? Recognize the affect colors have on the brain and utilize them well into your logo design.

Oftentimes, some clients use their personal preferences to dictate their favorite color in business designs. “I really like purple”. Don’t let your home’s wall color dictate your business brand colors; separate the two at all times.

4 Is your design conceptual?

Is your design creative and of original thought? Does it say, “hey, I was made from scratch, out of love and care”, not a stock site…? Push the envelope and explore all objects, purge all items that may relate to your brand and utilize them in a unique fashion. Is there something in the negative space the viewer can see that carries out your message?

5 Is your logo design safe to use and protected?

Protect your new logo design by:
A. Take the time to write up brand guidelines that instruct your staff on proper and consistent usage, and enforce those rules among the staff and designers
B. Most importantly, file for copyright and trademark protection with the U.S. Copyright office as soon as your logo design is approved. I cannot stress this step enough.

A few years ago I did a character logo design of an animal for a small mom and pop company that was renting tubes to college kids in the Hill Country. He was adorable. He had huge teeth, hawaiian shorts, a red solo cup, and was holding an intertube with a river in the background. They loved the design since it was created exactly to match the vision they provided us. It was done and approved by the client. However, a rival company had filed for a trademark in the 90’s of a character that was a crayon sketch of a slightly similar animal, and no one would have know that, since that character was not used in any of their current branding, but they still had ownership of the child’s original sketch, and it just so happened to have 1 of the same qualities of the new character design. The client did NOT submit the new design for copyright prior to printing on signs and shirts, and was faced with a legal battle since they began to practice some similar techniques to a rival company, and had caused brand confusion with their similar business models. If they had submitted it, it would have come back not accepted and would have saved them ten of thousands of dollars in the long run.

Most logo design companies do not do both design and also trademark filing on all their logo designs. It’s usually up to the client to submit their business name, ID and design for approval, prior to utilizing it as their logo design for their brand.

Why Invest in a Quality Logo Design by a Local Designer?

I wanted to write an article addressing some of the issues I see my clients face when developing their new brand. Two obstacles I see them struggle with is (1) using online graphic design and logo contest sites and it resulting in a poor outcome and (2) not understanding why they should invest more into their logo design vs other areas of brand development. I’d say an estimated 10% of my clients come to me after using an online design site and don’t have a positive experience usually because the communication barrier muddles the process.

I recently had a client that operates a successful swimming company in Virginia Beach alert me that a designer from one of these online sites had copied our logo design we created for them years ago, in an online logo contest and the exact design we created, was replicated. We were both in shock. We both contacted the online site to alert them of the infringement and jumped through multiple hoops to even get someone to acknowledge our problem. The designer that replicated our logo design was based in Bangladesh, and the online site owner was based out of Australia, so they were not subject to U.S. Copyright laws. We were told (after days of no correspondence) that the designer was “sanctioned” and that, was that.

swim logo
Swim logo originaly created by Austin Logo Designs

Logo design copied by an online design site

I also had another client come to me after using an online site for a beard oil company. He provided the online designer with a sample logo for them to use as inspiration. The online designer, based in another country, removed the product name and inserted the new client’s product name, kept the logo mark or icon and then provided my client that image as a logo proof, a clear example of logo infringement.

In another case of an online design site, the client was actually happy with the design process and has successfully closed out the job. Months later the online designer alerted him about a clause in the contract that ordered the client to pay the online designer a fee every time the logo was used, and the final dollar amount totaled into the tens of thousands of dollars.

I’m sure some customers have found success with some of those online sites, but please buyer beware.

Secondly, some of my clients don’t understand why the cost of a logo design is not less expensive. I’ve even heard a client say, “It’s only an inch big!” A logo design is the singlemost important investment you will make in your business’ brand and is always worth the cost and time. It will show on all platforms, print, web, social media, swag, and more, for hopefully the entire lifetime of your brand. It requires the designer to have technical skills in Illustrator, the creative mind to interpret your business feel and ensure it operates and functions properly on multiple platforms and sizes.

You also need to trademark your logo design after it’s approved. You can go online to submit to the U.S. Copyright office or you can use a local trademark attorney. It is a process that I deem mandatory. I believe the Keep Austin Weird creators did not trademark theirs and it was taken over by another group. If you create your logo design right the first time, you won’t have to redesign and resubmit for trademark as well, saving you time and headache.

You can always cut costs on other areas of your business launch, but a logo design is not one of them.

For instance, websites can be developed for free these days. We are now in an era where multiple platforms provided free website development software, such as SquareSpace, Wix and others. When I started out in design and saw the introduction of website development, they were quite costly. I’ve worked at big agencies that charged anywhere from $2000 to $200,000 for a website build. Yes, websites change every couple of years, they go through various designers, content changes, user ability changes, images, etc. But the logo design (hopefully) remains the same. How many times has Nike changed it’s logo since its original inception? Zero. But the branding has contantly changed, so doesn’t it make sense to invest in a local logo designer?

We are also in an era of affordable online printing. When I started as a designer in the late 90’s, you had to go to a designer to get a brochure printed or cards, and it was quite costly. Now, you can use a software program or template and upload your design, order and ship to yourself in minutes. Take advantage of these online sites, especially the ones that offer refunds if you’re not happy.

If you are developing a new startup, a new brand, the face of your new company, isn’t it worth the time and effort to meet a local graphic designer in person to talk one-on-one about your ideas, and know that designer is also just as invested in creating a creative and legit logo design?

Online Graphic Design sites vs. Your Local Graphic Designer: What You Should Know

Trademarks are the most valuable long term asset a company can have. That being said, many large companies overlook their importance.

I see it all too often: companies in the early stages of developing a brand identity willingly walk into future trademark and re-branding issues. Typically, a start-up will be operating in ‘boot strap mode’ in order to conserve funds; in trying to save a few hundred dollars, they turn to an internet stock photo company or low cost graphic design site rather than employing the services of a quality graphic designer.

I wanted to repost a very important article written recently by an Austin trademark attorney, Andrew Eisenberg. His blog article is a must-read for all business startups, large and small.

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Trademarks: All About your Graphic Designer

by Andrew Eisenberg | Dec 10, 2016

While this will save money and therefore seems like a great idea at the time, it often results in brand issues down the track. The result? The company needs to re-brand just when it’s starting to make profits!

Internet based graphic design companies

Internet based logo design companies are everywhere – and their services are cheap. I am seeing an increasing number of start-ups utilizing these companies in order to acquire a graphic that can be then trademarked as a logo.

These internet based design companies work by matching overseas designers with companies in the US; the few US dollars these designers make for a job go a lot further in their home country and allow them to earn a decent living. These websites use terms and conditions that effectively transfer ownership from the designer to the startup – and these terms are based on US law.

While I think the acquisition of low-cost graphics is a good idea in most situations, I believe complications can arise when the start-up is planning to build a brand – which is an expensive and often difficult task – using these low-cost graphics.

So where does the issue arise? In many cases, the laws of the country in which the graphic designer lives often differ from US laws. In some cases when I’ve taken a closer look at the transfer of copyright ownership rights in the website’s terms and conditions, I’ve noticed that they were insufficient to enact a transfer in the designer’s home country.

Case study

In order to explain the issue with cut-price logos, I will use my friend Marshall as an example.

Marshall founded a company – and I took personal ownership interest in it. Being a start-up, Marshall was doing everything he could to save a couple of dollars, and when it came to branding he chose to acquire a logo through one of these design websites. The site he chose allowed designers from around the globe to submit graphics based on his brief; he saved about $400 by going down this path.

Once graphics were submitted, Marshall chose the best design and the designer was paid for their work. The logo looked great and everyone was happy – so Marshall went ahead and trademarked the graphic as the company logo. He then proceeded to build a brand around it.

A few months down the track (in hindsight, we were lucky it wasn’t a year or more later) Marshall received a letter from the graphic designer who created his logo. The letter contained a copyright license: Marshall could use the graphic in exchange for a $25 fee every time it was used. Being the trademark of the company, the logo was in heavy use.

Understandably, Marshall thought this was outrageous; he had paid for the logo and was provided with a copyright transfer from the website as part of the agreement. So what happened? Well, the copyright release in the website terms and conditions failed to meet the language of the designer’s country of citizenship/residency. Therefore, not all the rights were transferred. The designer was clearly aware of this situation and had decided to take advantage of it by sending out the copyright license.

Of course, if the logo only needed to be used once or twice, Marshall would have paid the money – $25 isn’t going to break the bank. However, the logo was inextricably linked with the company’s brand; Marshall needed to be able to use it on a constant basis and paying to do so would have put the company out of business. With no other viable option, Marshall was forced to re-brand. He lost more than the small fee he paid for the graphic initially – he lost money spent on advertising under the logo, trademarking the logo and also all the brand image and awareness he had been busy building over the preceding months.

Yes, Marshall’s situation is rare – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Most of the time there is no issue when buying graphics via online design sites, but the cost of having to potentially re-brand down the track – especially if it happens at the wrong time – has the potential to kill a company. It’s not worth the risk.

What about using stock photos as a logo, brand identifier or trademark?

When low on cash, a popular choice for start-ups is to use a stock image from a stock photo site as a trademark or brand identifier. While it’s easy on the bank balance, there are a number of legal issues related to using a stock image as a trademark.

Many stock photo companies have terms and conditions that prevent you using images as trademarks or brand identifiers.

Ultimately, this means if you decide to use one of their stock images as a trademark, you will breach the contract with the company you purchased the image from. In this scenario, it’s possible the stock photo company could have claims to damages against you.

Why do stock photo companies have these terms and conditions? Simply put, they want to be able to sell as many copies of an image as possible. If you are able to trademark an image, they other customers who buy the image from the stock photo company can’t actually use it – thus, it would be bad for business in the eyes of the stock photo company!

Their terms and conditions preventing you trademarking an image is their way of protecting their business.

Even if you are granted a trademark, it’s possible the rights might be limited or the trademark might eventually be rendered invalid due to others using the mark.

If others start using the same image to promote a product that competes with your product – which is likely as they may have purchased the same image from the same stock photo company – then your competitor may have rights to continue using the trademark, even though you own in. In some cases, they may even be able to cancel your trademark.

Case study

Mary is the founder and owner of a company that currently has multiple million-dollar product lines.

During the course of building her many product lines, she used stock images on the labels. As her company grew and became more successful, she began to have issues with other companies using the same labels on sites such as Amazon. These products were knock-offs; another business was trying to pass their products off as Mary’s.

Unfortunately, when Mary looked into trademarks and legal protections against these knock-off products, it turned out she was actually the one in the wrong. When she purchased the stock images she had actually agreed not to use them as trademarks or register them with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Ultimately, there was little Mary could do about the knock-off products.

This left Mary with two options: rebrand or put up with the sales lost through knock-offs. While neither were good options, Mary decided that the best option long-term was to rebrand – she did so with a designer who could create custom work she was able to trademark.

What about utilizing stock photos as a basis for a logo, brand identifier, or trademark?

When companies end up in the same position as Mary – that is, with the option to either rebrand or deal with a ‘trademark’ that can be copied – I find that many decide to try and create a ‘unique’ brand identifier that is based on the old stock image. The idea is the company will end up with a ‘new’ trademark that still looks like the old one in the eyes of customers – thus avoiding confusion.

While this is good in theory, in reality it’s called derivative work and the contract signed with the stock photo company most likely prevents purchasers from creating such work. This means that the company is left with all the same issues as using the actual stock image.

The best way to overcome this is to hire a designer and then describe to them what you want – rather than show them the actual stock image – and then ask them to create something similar.

It’s always tempting to save money and use a stock image – especially when your start-up is in its early stages and money is tight. Go ahead and use a stock image on your website or advertising, however if you wish to use a stock image as part of your trademark or brand identity it’s best to reconsider. Not only do you risk other companies creating knock-offs, you may actually breach the contract you signed with the stock image company – and end up owing them money in damages!

For additional information regarding logo design and trademark protections, feel free to contact:


Contact Andrew Eisenberg, Attorney

Address: 11501 Alterra Parkway,
Suit 450 – Austin, Texas 78758
Phone: 512-456-5140

Online-Only Logo Design Sites: Less Expensive, But Can You Trust Them?

A lot of my clients come to me after having a troublesome experience with online design sites. You know the ones… Online only and cheaper, with plans designed to hook small businesses. What I’d like to shed light on is the TRUE cost of hiring some of the cheaper sites.

I would say about 15% of my clients come to Austin Logo Designs after having a bad experience with specific design firms. While these sites seem to “guarantee” their customers will like their designs, some clients have encountered severe legal pitfalls that make these sites FAR more expensive than meets the eye.

One client came to me about a year ago, after using an online site to develop his beard oil company. He provided the online designer some samples of styles he liked, paid the online fee, and received his proofs. His designer – who worked overseas – had “created” a logo that precisely mirrored his competitors’ logo. The logo design proofs now looked exactly like his competitors’ design!

The designer, based abroad, had simply swapped out the name and placed the new beard oil company’s name. My client was taken aback. The amount of legal damages he would have incurred had chosen and used this design –had it miraculously even passed the copyright and trademark process – would have been in the tens of thousands of dollars!

But WHY would a designer do this? Is it not illegal?

Unfortunately, most of the designers on the online sites are overseas and are therefore not subject to the United States copyright laws. This is far more common than you’d think.

Recently, I had a conversation with my trademark attorney, who told me about another case he was working on where a client used an online design site, and fell into legal problems. The client had approved the online logo design provided by the overseas designer, and invested money to print the design on pricey signage, cards and other branding products.

The client was then sued for the design! In the end, the client was forced to take down all branding material, and was out the cost for the logo fee.

As if this was not enough, the client was sadly informed that the contract with the online designer had specified that the client had to pay the designer $150 EACH time the logo was displayed – on every business card, and in every medium! The client was not aware of that stipulation in the contract agreement with the online site. In the end, my attorney’s client had to pay the initial logo design fee, lawyer fees, and printing fees. Finally, the client was back to the drawing board.

But how can you protect yourself against problems with cheaper, online-only sites?

Always be aware of some of the potential pitfalls of these online design sites. Your logo is the face of your company – the one mark that interprets and sets the tone for your business, and is consistent through its life.

Take the time to consult with a designer in person, who cares for the well being of your company. It makes sense to invest in your brand and use a designer who conforms to the U.S. copyright laws. You can do this by meeting the designer in person and discussing your vision for your brand. Working together with someone who has YOUR best interest at heart can set your mind at ease.

Really Modern Trends Surging for Real Estate Logo Design

Working in Austin brings a lot of real estate agents, home builders, home advisors, housing developers, and other agents to my door. The recent boom in real estate development has caused a huge demand in a newer, fresher, more modern logo and signage design. In a highly competitive market, agents are desperately trying to stand out with fresher graphics and more unique names. Gone are the old trends of stuffy type-only based logo treatments and white only backgrounds. The colors are brighter, bolder and more reflective of the local aesthetics. I’m seeing a lot of requests for black, glossy backgrounds and edgier modern, sans serif fonts.

See just a few logo, sign and business card designs completed recently for some of our favorite local clients:

Recent logo and graphic designs created for various real estate agencies, builders and living complexes in Austin, TX,
Recent logo and graphic designs created for various real estate agencies, builders and living complexes in Austin, TX,






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Latest Logo Trend: The Baseball Swoosh

I admit. I’m guilty of using the latest logo design element almost ad nauseam – the baseball swoosh . It’s an instant way to integrate that original vintage feel, in a clean simple manner.

It’s no longer associated directly with baseball and sporting events. You see it featured on beer logos, swag, festival event logos, and more. I have myself integrated it into a vintage architectural firm logo, as well as my own. (But again, I change my logo as many times as I change shoes.)

I love seeing so many elements brought back from my childhood (texture, tomato red and weathered creme colors). Growing up, my father had a cabin on a river, with our uncle’s cabin next door. As kids, we would play “bartender” upstairs with water, in an old wooden, makeshift kitchen area. I distinctly recall these gorgeous creme colored Pearl beer coasters. Today, they still seem to resonate on so many mediums.

I’ve collected just a handful of samples via pinterest.com below:

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